LONDON (AFP) – Manchester City suffered a surprise 4-1 defeat by Liverpool while Jamie Vardy equalled a Premier League goalscoring record to leave Leicester as the shock leaders of English football’s top-flight on Saturday.
City started the late kick-off match at their Eastlands ground knowing victory would see them go top on a day when the Premier League paid tribute to the victims of the Paris terror attacks.
But instead Manuel Pellegrini’s men found themselves 3-0 down inside 32 minutes after an Eliaquim Mangala own-goal preceded two sweeping Liverpool moves finished by the Brazilian pair of Phillippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino respectively.
City pulled a goal back before the interval through Sergio Aguero’s 20-yard effort, but Jurgen Klopp’s visitors had the last word when Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel struck nine minutes from time.
England striker Vardy equalled Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in 10 consecutive Premier League games for his club by netting Leicester’s opener in a 3-0 win over Newcastle during first-half stoppage-time at St James’ Park.
However, Vardy is still short of all the time English top-flight record for goals in an unbroken run of 12 club matches set by Jimmy Dunne of Sheffield United in the old First Division during the 1931/32 season.
Few would have tipped former non-league forward Vardy, who scored just four goals last term, or Leicester to hit the heights they have both achieved this season.
Leonardo Ulloa headed in the Foxes’ second goal in the 62nd minute before Japanese substitute Shinji Okazaki assured Italian manager Claudio Ranieri’s side of victory seven minutes from time.
For the 28-year-old Vardy, it was the perfect afternoon’s work.
“I have matched Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record and we have got the three points and clean sheet,” he said.
“We have a never say die attitude and will fight for each other until the end.” Arsenal, who could have gone top themselves, suffered a shock 2-1 loss away to West Bromwich Albion.
It was just their third league defeat this season and hardly ideal preparation for their must-win Champions League group match at home to Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday.
The Gunners took a 28th-minute lead through France striker Olivier Giroud but found themselves 2-1 down before half-time after James Morrison and an own-goal from Mikel Arteta put the Baggies in front.
Santi Cazorla had a chance to equalise late on but blasted a penalty over the crossbar.
“Overall it was a bad day,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “We scored an own goal, missed a penalty and missed a lot of chances. It is very disappointing.”
Champions Chelsea eased the pressure on manager Jose Mourinho with just their fourth win in 13 league matches this season as they beat Norwich 1-0 thanks to Diego Costa’s 64th-minute goal at Stamford Bridge.
“Me and the fans didn’t deserve to have our heart in our hands in the last four minutes. It is the pressure of the bad results, that is normal,” said Mourinho.
Manchester United made it eight games unbeaten in all competitions with a 2-1 win away to Watford in Saturday’s early kick-off – the first Premier League match since the Paris terror attacks of November 13 which killed 130 people.
La Marseillaise - France’s national anthem - was played before kick-off at Vicarage Road as a mark of respect in a gesture that was repeated ahead of all of Saturday’s Premier League matches.
Watford captain Troy Deeney appeared to have gained a point for the home side with an 87th-minute penalty only to deflect Bastian Schewinsteiger’s stoppage-time effort into his own net after United had taken the lead through Memphis Depay.
“In football you always have 90-93 minutes,” German midfielder Schweinsteiger told BT Sport. “You always have to believe.” Everton ensured Aston Villa stayed bottom of the table with a 4-0 win at Goodison Park, with Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku scoring two goals apiece.
Stoke striker Bojan Krkic gave his side a 1-0 win away to Southampton while Swansea came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home to Bournemouth, a heartening result for under-fire manager Garry Monk.
Tottenham play London rivals West Ham on Sunday, with Monday’s top flight match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland.